Oxfam International reaction to EAC-EU free trade agreement

Published: 27 November 2007

November 27: This morning in Kampala, the East African Community (EAC) initialled a goods-only trade agreement with the European Union (EU). According to a joint statement, the EAC will open their markets to 80% of EU goods within 15 years.

This covers mainly industrial inputs and capital goods. About one fifth of EAC trade will be completely excluded from any market liberalization requirements. The deal is seen as an interim step towards agreeing a full Economic Partnership Agreement by mid-2009.

Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam International's EU Office said:

"Developing countries have been placed under enormous pressure to sign. Despite concerns raised by many, including the IMF, African civil society, trade unions, and academics, the Commission has ignored possible alternatives and insisted on the deadline. They have essentially forced the East Africans to choose between guaranteeing markets for their agricultural exports today, and maintaining a degree of protection to promote future industrial growth - which all developed countries have done in the past.

This agreement will oblige the East African region to remove 80% of its tariffs on EU goods over 15 years, possibly more quickly, which could lead to unemployment and loss of vital government revenue that might otherwise be spent on health and education.

It suits the Commission to spread the impression that regions are falling into line and the rest should do so too. But we would urge other countries to take heed of the range of voices raised against these deals and continue to ask the Commission for more time to negotiate a pro-development deal, and for feasible alternatives to be considered."

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Amy Barry, Oxfam Media Officer, on +44 (0)7980 664397
abarry@oxfam.org.uk